• Workshop

Decolonial Ecology: Literary and Cultural Representations in the Global South

25–26 July 2024 | College for Social Sciences and Humanities, Essen | hybrid

To think ecology from the perspective of colonially repressed ideas and practices is to deconstruct the epistemological hierarchy of environmental humanities. The workshop seeks to deepen the dialogue between ecology and decoloniality in the context of indigenous knowledges and practices of the Global South, examining how literary and cultural artists represent, interpret, and foreground their ancient, autochthonous, and local ecological practices.

collage of symbolic images

The workshop seeks to deepen the dialogue between ecology and decoloniality in the context of indigenous knowledges and practices of the Global South, often epistemologically relegated as non-knowledge. The Global South is invoked here as a geographical marker of formerly colonised nations struggling with severe postcolonial and environmental crises, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a systematic occlusion of their indigenous knowledge systems. The theme is a bold signpost to examine how literary and cultural artists, including writers, (oral) artists, filmmakers, (traditional) performers, musicians, among others, represent, interpret, and foreground their ancient, autochthonous, and local ecological practices. The theme also privileges the decolonial lessons that can be harnessed from such practices for planetary balance in the present time.

Scholars from Nigeria, India, Cameroon, Uganda, Germany, and the Netherlands will elucidate various aspects of the topic. Their presentations – centred on African and Asian literary and cultural productions – will discuss the entanglement of ecology and coloniality, but also how literary and cultural artists deploy neglected ecological ideas, practices, natures, as decolonial strategies. How, for instance, their representations of the ecology of indigenous communities serve as colonial counter-discourse in the face of universalised forms of western knowledge systems. To think ecology from the perspective of colonially repressed ideas and practices is to deconstruct the epistemological hierarchy of environmental humanities that tend to undermine how historical processes sometimes overdetermine environmentalism in the Global South. It is above all to decongest the ecological epistemic space of any neo-colonial ‘superior’ knowledge system disguised as universality in favour of a communal, pluriversal knowledge system.

Programme

10:00–10:30

Opening proceedings and welcome address

Prof. Dr Sule Emmanuel Egya | College for Social Sciences and Humanities, Germany

10:30 – 11:05

Indigenous Environmental Knowledges in Cameroon Western Grassland Oral Narratives: An Ecocritical Perspective

Prof. Dr Eunice Ngonkum | University of Yaoundé, Cameroon

11:05 – 11:20

Tea break

11:20 – 11:55

Cultural Ecology in Decolonial Perspective

Prof. Dr Hubert Zapf | Augsburg University, Germany

12:30 – 13:30

Lunch break

13:30 – 14:05

Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Nonhuman-Human Relations in Ngas Masquerade Culture: An Eco-metaphysical Approach

Dr Peace Longdet | Federal College of Education, Nigeria|

14:05 – 14:40

The Sisyphean Drudge of Decoloniality: Thinning Groves and the Ecoimagination Promise

Prof. Dr Chike Okoye | University of Münster, Germany

14:40 – 14:55

Tea break

14:55 – 15:30

Ritualizing Plants and Decolonial Bioregionalism in Kodagu, India

Dr Subarna De | University of Groningen, The Netherlands

15:30 – 16:05

(Re-)Framing Environmental Thinking: Indigenous Ecologies and Decolonial Praxis

Dr Goutam Karmakar | Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, India

16:05 – 16:20

Tea break

16:20 – 17:05

Once Upon a Time: Human Relations with the Landscape in Selected Ganda Folktales

Dr Eve Nabulya | Makerere University, Uganda

17:05 – 17:40

Confronting Environmental and Epistemic Injustices in the Congo Basin

Dr Nsa Mala | University of Cologne, Germany

18:00 – 20:00

Speakers' dinner

09:30 – 10:05

Natures and Negritude: Poetry, Coloniality, and Decoloniality

Prof. Dr Sule Emmanuel Egya | College for Social Sciences and Humanities, Germany

10:05 – 10:40

Poetry, Water Politics and Decolonial Ecology

Dr John Olorunshola Kehinde | independent scholar, Nigeria

10:40 – 11:05

Tea break

11:05 – 11:40

Knowing as Belonging: Soil and Indigenous Ecological Knowledge in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Dr Douglas Kaze | University of Jos, Nigeria

11:40– 14:00

Closing, packed lunch, and excursion to Welterbe Zollverein

Speakers

Registration

Organisation & Chair

Prof. Sule Emmanuel Egya

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (Nigeria) | African Literature, Environmental Humanities

E-mail:

Sule Egya is professor of African Literature and Environmental Humanities at Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Nigeria. His research interests include literature and environment, African migration writing, knowledge production in Africa, and decolonial discourse. His current research examines environmental imagination in African 20th century literature. His monographs include:

  • “Nation, Power and Dissidence in Third Generation Nigerian Poetry in English” (NISC, 2014, 2019)
  • “Niyi Osundare: A Literary Biography” (SevHage, 2017)
  • “Power and Resistance: Literature, Regime, and the National Imaginary” (SevHage, 2019)
  • “Nature, Environment and Activism in Nigerian Literature” (Routledge, 2020)

Sule Egya has co-edited “Studies in Scientific and Cultural Ecology” (SevHage, 2021) and “Orality, Textuality, Society: New Perspectives on Nigerian Literature and Culture” (SevHage, 2023). He also writes fiction and poetry under the pen-name E. E. Sule. He is the author of the novels “Sterile Sky” (winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize Africa Region, 2013) and “Makwala” (ANA Prose Prize, 2019) and the poetry collection “What the Sea Told Me” (winner of the ANA Gabriel Okara Prize, 2009).

Project description

Tandem Partner

Prof. Patricia Plummer

University of Duisburg-Essen | English and Postcolonial Studies

E-mail: